I am angry.
Before you call me crazy, let me explain why am angry.
I woke up very early this morning to prepare for a talk I have to give to a group of young women over the weekend when I stopped to take a break and went on Facebook to do a quick browse. A few minutes of me scrolling down my news feed had me looking at adorable pictures posted by a ‘friend’ showing her husband taking care of their infant. I bet you are now wondering what could have possibly upset me from looking at such adorable pictures. They are pictures of a wonderful father taking care of his child and the wife is obviously very proud of that! But here’s the thing, it is not necessarily the pictures that got me angry. Rather, it was the caption!
And please, don’t get me wrong here, even if this case might come off as me being the unrepentant feminist that I am, my anger is in no way a reflection of my personal views but rather, a reflection of what a real family picture should look like.
Oooh proud moment, hubby changing baby’s diaper. #raremoments, #Ihavethebesthubbyintheworld!
That was the caption that got me started.
Hold on now. You have the best whatiii??
I am not trying to be petty here but for me those hashtags meant more than just mere praise or words spoken carelessly by a wife or mother. For me, those words were a representation of what parenting is like in this world that we live in. Hers was not the first post of that nature that I have seen, it is one of the many many many I have come across and ignored on my Newsfeed and unfortunately, hers was the one that managed to finally tip me over.
I am angry about a number of things that seem to put women at a disadvantage in the family picture and I think I am entitled to vent if I wanna see any change take place. I just can’t hold it in any longer.
I am not for the idea of wives/women/mothers lauding their men for doing what they are supposed to do and making it seem like them doing it deserves some sort of medal. Who told you that a man changing his own child’s diaper makes him the husband of the year? I know that many will argue that it’s because not a lot of men do that and yes, you are very right! I totally agree with you and that’s exactly why I am writing this!
Why are there so few men that take on the responsibility of attending to their children’s physical or mental or emotional needs? Why? Who told men that it’s only the mother’s role to feed, clean and change the diapers? Who told you that it’s enough for the father to simply provide the money to buy the child’s clothes, food and provide shelter without taking an active role in raising that child? And women, who told you that you have the best husband in the world simply because he’s doing something that he is supposed to be doing? If he is doing all these things, what you have is a good husband and father to your children, he shouldn’t be the best of those categories because you should expect that the rest of the men out there by default should be doing the same.
And believe me, if he only changes your baby’s diapers/nappies once in a blue moon and you live in the same house, he is far from being the best of anything.
I am not against the idea of praising our partners when they do something great (and in this case I am referring to parenting) however, what I am against is the idea of both men and women assuming that taking care of their children is the sole responsibility of the mother. The danger with this kind of praise is that we make the men feel as if they are going an extra mile or doing something extra-ordinary when in actual sense they are doing something that they should be doing every day and not just when they feel like it! When a man changes his child’s diaper, he is not helping out his wife, NO. He is doing what a father is supposed to be doing! He is not doing anyone a favour.
A man physically taking care of his own child does not make him an exceptional man (although the current reality of the rarity of such men makes him so), it simply makes him a great father attending to his responsibilities which are and should be expected of him every single day.
A man might provide financially for his family but that shouldn’t exclude him from taking care of his own children whether the wife is busy with a day job or if she’s a house wife. No matter how much money you make as a man, taking care of your children is a responsibility of both parents and that includes changing of diapers as well!
What did a woman ever do to you to make you think that it is her sole responsibility to attend to the ‘dirt and the hard stuff’ of parenting while you only pick up the child when he or she is clean and parade them to the rest of the world making yourself seem like such a macho man for having highly functioning sperms? Is that all you really are in that child’s life, a sperm donor? The woman did not make that child alone and like I always tell my friends, chances are that the woman never even ‘came’ during the conception of that child whereas it’s a fact that the man did! So tell me again, who do you think should really be taking care of the poop and attending to all that crying and noise? This nonsense of shoving the kids to their mothers when they’ve soiled their pants or diapers needs to stop because that child is much yours as she is the mother’s.
For many years women have appreciated ‘men that help them out’ with physically taking care of their children and for years men have lived believing that it is none of their business what happens to their children when they poop, cry or whine over something…their job is to simply help out every now and then when the dear wife or mother is busy, sick or working out of town. But who told men that they are only helpers in this aspect of parenting? Isn’t it enough that the woman had to endure nine months of ridiculous cravings and hormonal changes and carrying around another human inside her body everywhere she went and now you want to leave her alone to handle the ‘mess’ that comes after delivery?
I understand that it’s an accepted fact that women are better caregivers but taking care of your children’s needs is the responsibility of both parents. Both mother and father are supposed…and are expected to participate a hundred percent in the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and all round growth of their children. Whether the woman had stayed at home lazing around the whole day while the man worked his brains out at the office the whole day, when he gets home, he still has the responsibility to take care of his child because that’s his child and even if it kills him, he has to spend time and attend to his/her needs (whether it’s to change nappies or tell a bed time story).
I was raised in a home where the only ‘father-daughter’ moments I experienced involved a rod and sobbing. I have no memories of my father putting bandages on my wounds or soothing me when I cried. My mother did all of these things. However, I do have memories of my father taking us kids all out for shopping and as far as I was concerned, that was all a father was supposed to do for his children. It was only later when I grew a little older that I realized I had had absolutely no relationship with my father and I cannot even begin to tell you how this affected how I related with men later on in life.
I want to fight for a world where men do not feel like they can get away from their responsibilities simply because of their gender. Not taking care of your children does not in any way make you more of a man than your sperm count ever will. I want to fight for a world where women do not make allowances for their men’s bad behaviour or short-comings but to make them accountable and fight to see change. As much as men expect you to be a good wife and mother to the children, expect and demand the same from them. If you keep quiet simply because you fear losing him to a much complacent and ‘domesticated’ woman, then I am sad to inform you that you married a fool. There is a huge difference between submissiveness and foolishness.
I strongly believe that the only way the above can be achieved is if things were put in perspective right from the onset, before the marriage and more so before the children come into the picture. Even way better is if parents inculcated this inot their children from childhood.
On that very first date, my fellow women, do not simply dress up and put on a persona that will ‘help you win the audition for the role of wife’ and end it there. I am not saying don’t look good when going on dates, am simply saying have the right reasons for looking good! If you are going there to audition to be his wife, be prepared to make him audition for the role of husband in your life as well! Why should you be the only one earning his love, he too should earn your love and trust!
I am so tired of seeing women constantly auditioning to fit into the lives of their potential suitors and neglecting who they really are. They put aside their principles, personalities, and ambitions simply because they want the ring and what we get in the end is a society filled with dull and complacent women married to half-baked and sometimes raw…very very raw men. The man has a thousand expectations from you and yet you have zero expectations from him as a husband or father because for you the fact that you are married is good enough.
How many times have you heard the world or the church preach about the ‘the wife material kind of woman’ and how many times have you heard them preach about the ‘husband material type of man?’ The world keeps teaching women to aspire to marriage and they tease men about losing their freedom once they tie the knot. At the end of the day we have married men still acting like single men and married women religiously holding on to their marriage bands expecting no change from their underperforming and promiscuous husbands.
Today I have a challenge for both men and women;
Men, please step up and earn the good women that you so desperately desire. You can’t have the best of both worlds; whores/side-chicks and good wives. I will be honest with you, one woman is a lot of work, on her own she can bring you to either greatness or great ruin. Now imagine having to physically or emotionally handle two or more of them at the same time? And here’s a quick thought; if you think that a side-chick is good for you, and you are aware that you and your wife are one, then it’s safe to conclude that a side-dude is good for her as well right? Because let’s face it, women too think it’s fun to sleep with all the men they find attractive! My point here is that Sin is not gender based; Adultery does not appear blue when a man commits it and red when a woman does. It’s all the same colour. And dear men, be to your children the kind of father you desire for yourself and be to your wives the kind of husband’s you would want if the genders where reversed.
To my fellow women, please, I beg of you, stop settling for the pathetic and men of low quality that keep appearing with rings in front of you. ‘Shipikishaling’ does not make you a Proverbs 31 woman, don’t lie to yourself. You have the power to prevent a shipikisha kind of marriage even before you go on that first date. Unless you have a thing for foolish men, please, you have the right to expect the best from your partner and you have the right to remind them when they seem to have forgotten (or teach them when they don’t know) that you also deserve breakfast in bed, a massage when you are tired, and a day to just watch tv or hang out with the girls without feeling guilty about it. And most importantly, remind him that you did not make those children alone, they are both your responsibility regardless of what job either of you has.
Together, let’s build better families.
Published by Anisha Simutowe